Things To Keep On You For Emergency


The most useful survival tool is the one that you have with you when you need to survive.

So, having said that, what do you have with you, right now, on your person?

Or, what should you have on you, right now?

We often talk about the preps and supplies that we should have in storage or in kits, to be prepared for disaster or collapse; but the thing is, these supplies are stored at home or a bag, or vehicle, or somewhere that is not on your person (which is fine). Have you ever asked yourself what are the things that you might keep in your pockets, or somewhere on your person habitually at all times without being laden down with gear?

The answer to this is just as varied as that of any survival kit, and for many of the same reasons. No two answers will be the same. However there are some common sense thought processes which will help you determine what some of those items might be…

What is the use case scenario? Are the items geared towards ordinary every-day emergencies? Or worse? Are they geared toward life circumstances as you live it today? Your place at work and your typical daily travels? Is it geared toward a camping or hiking trip? A specific trip? A bug-out scenario? Your local region and geographical/climatic extremes? More? Less?


As an example, during my previous career and during the times that I would travel for work, I would consciously bring more ‘things’ with me for situations ‘just in case’. When I would travel internationally, I would bring even more ‘things’. The further away that I would be from my home base, the more I would think about ‘what-if’ scenarios and how I would get back home or survive on my own for a time…

While the odds seemed low of anything drastic happening while I was out traveling, the fact is that you never know… After 9/11 happened, I realized that you could potentially be stranded thousands of miles from home. Some of my work-mates were stuck in this scenario for awhile during that time.

Even if you are just at work during the day, or out shopping somewhere, how do you know that a disaster won’t happen which will send your life into chaos, and provide challenges to make your way home.


Here is a short list of items that may be helpful to keep on your person, and a starting point to get you to think of your own preferences and uses.

CASH. Cash money will get you out of many a jam, even for a time following a SHTF disaster. Having cash on hand is more tangible than a credit card or debit card. Do not short change yourself here. $20 or $50 is not enough. The further away from home you are, the more cash you will potentially need. Keeping nothing larger than 20’s. A mixture of smalls is best.

How much is enough? You tell me… think about your own hypothetical situations and your own extent of travel. Just pretend that you are away at the extent of your likely travels and then imagine that the only form of currency accepted will be cash. How much of a cushion do you want to keep with you?

Sure… if we’re talking about a terrible SHTF collapse, cash will become worthless after everyone realizes it. But this will take a bit of a while. So for ordinary daily carry, do not discount the benefit of having enough with you all the time.

CREDIT CARD. Even though I just insinuated that cash is king, the truth is that during ordinary times, having a credit card is essential for some emergency scenarios. There are many things that you simply cannot do without one, like renting a car or reserving a hotel room… which I believe may be the most legitimate emergency uses of having a credit card.

POCKET KNIFE. I won’t go into the multitude of uses for a pocket knife, since they are mostly obvious.

CELL PHONE. Quick communication is often key to a successful survival plan. Be the first to make that airline, hotel, or auto rental reservation before the hoards take to the airwaves after they realize their predicament in a disaster. During a disaster, ‘texting’ rather than voice calling, will almost always work – as long as the cell towers are running. The ability to dial 911 is also an obvious emergency benefit.

LIGHTER. Or matches, or any tool enabling the ability to make fire.

FLASHLIGHT. A small LED flashlight hardly takes up any room at all, and can even be attached to your keychain.

BANDANA. Either worn on your head or kept in your pocket, a cloth bandana has a thousand uses.

PARACORD. A paracord bracelet or necklace (both of which will unravel into a useable length), or a small coiled up length in one’s pocket, also has a thousand practical uses.

WEAPON. Where it is legal, carry the appropriate ‘tool’ that you are comfortable with. Improvise where able.

When traveling far from home (a business trip or distant vacation?), consider taking more with you, or building a small ‘kit’ that might fit in a ‘fanny pack’ of sorts.

Add items like the Mylar emergency blanket(s), LED headlamp, compass, pocket Atlas, first-aid, magnesium fire-starter, water purification tablets, potassium iodide pills, calorie food bars, an ounce (or more?) of gold (and/or silver) to buy or bribe transportation heading towards home, a pen and small notebook, small can-opener (P-38 or P-51?), sewing kit including heavier needle, small backpack, metal water container, ?

What you carry every day depends on so many things (how many pockets do you have?) and I’m curious what others carry with them as you go about your daily lives…


  1. My husband and I recently traveled to Africa for a mission trip and loaded up on survival gear, as we knew going into Goma, DRC was risky. My husband found a money belt online. If you do not have one, I would recommend getting one. If you carry $100 bills, you can fit up to $900 in one, and with plastic hardware, he never set off any metal detectors. You can also cut it to your size so you don’t have a lot of overhang.

    We bought a pack of 9 pocket-sized super-bright LED flash lights for about $10, very practical.

    We took a first aid kit with just the essentials (hydrogen peroxide, spray neosporin, first aid cream, bandages), extra water, LOTS of high-calorie bars, a flint, beef jerky, gummy bears (great for quick energy), dried fruit, extra socks, heat blanket, tissues (pocket packs to use as toilet paper), hand sanitizer, sewing kit, 98% deet bug spray, medications (probiotics, vitamins, malaria meds), cameras, sunscreen, chapstick, windbreakers, Bible, journal and pens, and a rain cover for our back packs. All of this fit into our day packs.

    Some things we learned about SHTF situations (because that’s pretty much where Goma is right now):
    – When people get hungry, they become very animalistic. We did a food give-a-way at a refugee camp where the people hadn’t eaten in 3 days, and it quickly got out of control.
    – When you are in an area full of hungry/thirsty people, don’t pull out water or food. You just have to deal with the hunger or thirst until you can be discreet about eating or drinking. You also cannot feed just one person or give a gift to just one person.
    – People crave human contact. Almost everyone we met, whether they spoke our language or not, wanted to shake hands and kids wanted to be hugged. So just get out of the habit of touching your face or putting your hands in your pockets in these kinds of situations.
    – Backpacks are handy, but sometimes you need to keep them in front of you. One person in our group had a flat fanny pack thing she wore under her clothes with her essentials. That worked really well.
    – Some police/authorities are actually very sympathetic and human. One of the guards at a refugee camp helped a child who had fallen and lost her shoe. That little bit of humanity really touched me.
    – When you are the only person of a certain race in a large crowd, you’ll stick out no matter what. It’s best not to draw even more attention to yourself by eating, using your hand sanitizer, taking pictures, etc.
    – People will send their children to ask you for money or food (by ask, it’s more like, “Mzungo! Give me money!”) and you have to say no. But it made me wonder what they would do with money in a refugee camp. That mentality of money still being important extended even where there seemed to be no money or use for money. Interesting.
    – When you are told to share something, it means you’ll be robbed later by whoever wants to “borrow” it next.
    – Get inside somewhere you know you’ll be safe before dark, and stay there.
    – People shoot first and ask later. Don’t be on the wrong end of that situation.
    – Bigger vehicles have the right of way, pedestrians do not. Right of way is taken, not given.
    – If you suspect you won’t see the sun for long periods of time, make sure you have access to vitamin D and/or something that will make you happy. Not seeing the sun for days is very depressing, and different people react differently to depression (anger, self-loathing, sadness, risk-taking).
    – We went during the dry season, so there would have been dry vegetation to burn if necessary. However, taking something (like dryer lint) to start a fire would have been on our list if we had gone during the rainy season.

    While we don’t carry all these things daily, we do have them in our survival closet and bags. Usually, day to day, we have flashlight, screw driver, flint, and pocket knife readily available in our cars, and we need to get better about that.

    Something that was interesting to me. We ended up missing our connecting flight in Amsterdam, and the airport gave us what they called a “Stranded Traveler Pack,” which contained tooth paste, tooth brush, deodorant, shaving cream, hair brush, lotion, soap, shampoo, and a huge t-shirt. We already had all these things in our carry-ons. But I think that’s a good picture of what authorities think are essential. They are right, to some degree, but had they not given that to us and we were stuck overnight in a foreign country without WalMart or well-packed carry-ons, we would have REALLY been stranded. So now I think whenever I travel, I’m going to try to carry all my essentials in my carry-on just in case. I doubt every airport will be as accommodating as the Amsterdam airport was.

    Sorry that was long-winded and a little off-topic. Should be topical to the website though :)

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. Very interesting insight as well into hungry people.

  2. I have carried a small multi tool for years in my back pocket, my husband has always kind of laughed at this. We just moved, and had a fuse on our truck go out while pulling a trailer, well its a new truck and these fuses are micro sized, he was about to go into an aouto Zone to buy a tool to pull the spent fuse…yeah heres my multi tool, laugh no more husband!

  3. I am one of these guys that always has a ton of stuff in his pockets. I have been this way since high school. Thirty years in the Army afforded me with the clothing to make maximum use of this policy. Since retiring 3 years ago, I actually added more things. I still wear BDU pants every single day in the fall and winter. I wear cargo shorts in the summer, so I have the same amount of pockets year round. Anyway, on the outside I wear an automatic diver’s watch, a paracord bracelet plus neck knife. On my belt, I have my cell phone, leather key chain attachment and a Schrade plier/multitool. Working my way around, in my left front pocket I keep a Walther PPK/S in a pocket holster, a Huntsman Swiss Army Knife and Nebo Redline flashlight. In my left cargo pocket, I have my smokes, a lighter, pack of matches and small tube of Curel hand cream. My back left pocket holds 2 additional magazines wrapped in another bandanna and a small notepad. My right rear pocket holds my wallet. In my right front pocket, my keys hang over a bandanna, Saint Michael and last Army unit coins, a few peppermints or cough drops, Listerine breath stips and 2 pill bottles. The right cargo pocket carries another pack of cigarettes, back up lighter, 2nd pack of matches and Jolt gum. I always carry 2 sets of car and house keys. Both rings have small flashlights. One ring has a mini-multitool and the other has a Tinkerer Swiss Army knife. I am NOT advocating that anyone carry all this stuff around with them every single day! My ONLY point is that these items fit and that I am NOT restricted with movement or uncomfortable. Keep in mind that it is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!

  4. On my car keychain, I have a small, but very bright led light, a flat, skelotonized knife, a small multi-tool, a folding set of wire cutters/pliers. I have carried these around for years, and they have never felt like a burden. Everyone MUST carry, at the least, a light, a knife, and some type of small “multi-tool”.

  5. Wow…i have all those things on me right now except for the paracord. also have small and jumbo bandaids. And a small pill bottle with OTC stuff.

  6. I usually wear a 6-round gas revolver (in Europe, Hungary), a folded knife and a kubotan for self defence. Enough cash to quickly get out of town in emergency, a fully loaded credit card, and my always charged mobile phone with built-in FM radio and speed dial to taxi and car rental companies.

  7. I can’t believe that pepper spray was not mentioned.

    I also thought of:
    – Bandaids
    – Pen/Pencil
    – Tiny 2-way radio (HAM/CB)
    – Appropriate apps for smart phone
    – Zip ties
    – Small Alcohol pads
    – Tylenol / Advil
    – Extra ammo

  8. On my keychain along with car and house keys, of course, I have a whistle, small knife, two small led flashlights,and a mini bic. Also, my cell phone. Always have asprin and a few bandaids. I have additional suplies in my car.

  9. I put together a bug out bag a few years ago. After reading this blog…I need to update it. Thanks for all the good info.

    1. Excellent! Thanks for reading the blog. There’s plenty more tucked away here… use the Search form too…

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